On Rustling Paso WestSide Wines

When looking at a map of Paso Robles wineries, it’s easy to notice that there are more wineries in the west than the east. Since many are concentrated on the lower portion of the west side, we spent two days on the west.

WineWranglerOn this day we left the driving to someone else as we decided to “Rustle Up Some Wine” with Wine Wrangler tours. Melinda, our guide, was a delightful and informative host as she took her band of 8 to 5 wineries – all different from our visit the day before, thus the days ahead. For the record, we recommend Wine Wrangler tours.

Castoro
Castoro offers a large selection of wines to consider. The Venti Quattro Anni impressed us, but we forgot to buy. FYI: Jan Kris and Peach Canyon tasting rooms are very close.

Rotta
The historic Rotta winery is the oldest in Paso. Still run by the same family, a very knowledgeable lady poured in the quaint tasting room. Although we didn’t buy, I’ll be on the lookout for their outstanding dessert wine – Black Monukka. Wow!

FreshPinotGrigioJuiceDonati
The wines were good, but we didn’t buy. The highlight was the general manager visiting our group and providing freshly-pressed pinot grigio juice to taste. Interesting!

Norman
Although known for their zinfandels, Norman also offers more wines than I anticipated. I simply wasn’t in the wine-buying mood on this day.

Calcareous
Named after the dominant limestone layer upon which the property sits, these reds were excellent – but they prominently express the property’s mineral foundation. We strongly considered, but didn’t purchase – however, the view here is spectacular – the high vista with a 30+ mile view to the east!

CarcareousView

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On Paso EastSide Wines

While hills and valleys with shaded winding roads dominate the land west of Paso Robles, the east side is more rolling, open, and warmer; thus producing different challenges for wine growers and wine makes. Day 1 of our trip took us to the east side.

Eberle
EberleCaveAs the 5th oldest winery of over 150 in Paso, Eberle is a must stop. If available, take the cave tour. Although located directly off highway 46, the patio provides a good view to the west. October ‘09’s Wine Enthusiast rated 3 Eberle wines in the 90s. Keep in mind that Gary Eberle played for Jo Pa in the 70s! We bought here.

Vina Robles
Maybe the most spectacular wine room, but these wines didn’t bowl me over on this day.

Tobin James
This winery is known for its marketing and the tasting room’s Wild West atmosphere is part of the experience. I can see why they claim to have the largest wine club in the country. We bought here and considering their wine club – besides, Toby is a native Cincinnatian.

Maloy O’Neil
Probably the most pleasant surprise of the trip as the overall quality was outstanding. Although a simple tasting room, Maloy O’Neil is a must stop. Their Lagrein grape is only grown on 50 acres in the whole state! We bought here.

EastSideVineyardPenman Springs
Another simple tasting room with a good view of the east side from the parking lot – plus a selection of many single-varietal wines.  We bought here.

East Side Wineries to Visit in the Future

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On Paso Wines

ReadyZinGrapesThe Paso Robles (CA) wine region is known for its red wines – especially red blends. Although it’s not online (at least not yet), the October ’09 Wine Enthusiast issue has an excellent article about this region, its wines, and some ratings.

With 150+ wineries in the area, I did my share of online research to develop a trip strategy – plus I had suggestions from Caitlin Pianetta (Pianetta Winery, who we met in Cincinnati earlier this year), and from the Adelaide Inn staff (where we stayed) – so we had plenty to keep us busy during a 3-day stay. Unfortunately, I discovered the Daily Wine Dispatch after returning home.

Since Paso wineries specialize in red wines, expect to see many more reds than whites. Most wineries will have viognier, chardonnay, muscat, or white blends. Paso whites are generally unoaked andrefreshing with possibly a note of crispness, thus easy to drink.

Paso reds are allover the map with zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and petite syrah leading the way – although cabernet franc, tempranillo, sangiovese, petite verdot, and others are abound. Given the number of red varietals grown in this area, no wonder Paso winemakers excel with blends, including Meritage, Rhone, and Bordeaux styles.

As with any wine region, tasters will encounter wineries they may not know plus wines from known wineries that are only sold at the winery – thus one reason to do your pre-trip homework and be aware of what is available in your home stores.

Future posts will feature east side, west side, and downtown Paso Robles winery notes.

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On a Paso Vacation

EastSideVineyardAfter attending a wine tasting this past spring, my wife and I decided to vacation in the Paso Robles (CA) wine region. Besides, we’ve visited Napa and Sonoma several times.

We flew into Santa Barbara and then visited several wineries on the way to Paso. After four nights there and one in Santa Maria, we can say this was a great trip – and one that I’ll report over multiple posts.

Although we had outstanding weather (high 80s, low 50s) with a nice breeze, Paso can be quite hot in July, August, and September.

AdelaideCompOur stay at the Adelaide Inn is worthy of praise. The Adelaide Inn, a motor-lodge style motel, provided clean, spacious, renovated king rooms. The inn is only a half-mile walk from downtown for those who like to walk (like us). The Adelaide staff is friendly and helpful – but beware of Charlie, the evening clerk with a sense of humor and the guardian of the cookies. The only downside on the Adelaide is that guests may need more than the Adelaide’s simple continental breakfast – but there are options.

Many, if not most, wine tasting rooms in this region have tasting fees. Although some waive the fee with a purchase, the Adelaide staff provided numerous complimentary tasting coupons.

Downtown Paso Robles offers tasting rooms, tasting bars, restaurants, and shopping – many surrounding a centralized city park. I recommend Thai Basil and Buona Tavola for evening meals.

Here are some broad recommendations for first-time wine tasters to this area.

  • Take a collapsible cooler along for packing a lunch because food isn’t easy to find out on the tasting trails.
  • Research before you go because not all tasting rooms are open daily as some are only on weekends while others only on extended weekends.
  • Consider the Wine Wrangler as it provides a good wine tour and they drive and provide lunch. (Advance purchase through Costco saves $20 per ticket. I’ll post about our day later).
  • If flying, plan so the wine is your checked luggage on your return flight because the baggage fee will probably be less expensive than a shipping fee – but buy a shipping box with styrofoam to protect the bottles.
  • Take time to visit Hearst Castle (about a 45-minute drive).

Planning Sites

More posts to come about this trip … especially the wine!